Raoul O’Roarke


earrings

Incident in Berkeley Square will be out Monday, 2 November. I’m so excited to have it out in the world and be able to discuss it with readers. Last week I shared the pendant that was my inspiration for the pendant Malcolm gives Suzanne. Above are the earrings that were my inspiration for the blue topaz earrings Raoul sends to Laura before the book begins and that she wears to the ball (the earrings above are green quartz).

We had fun on the Google Group with readers guessing who some quotes from the book belonged to. Here are a few more to while away the time until 2 November. For any or all guess who is speaking, whom they are speaking to, and if you like speculate on the circumstances in which the quote is spoken.

  1. “Ten minutes, and you’ll never know anyone was here.”
  2. “Thank you. For being who you are.”
  3. “I think the only thing to do is seek refuge on the dance floor.”
  4. “No, I know, safer that way, for him and me. Doesn’t stop me from worrying. He’s not hurt?”
  5. “I think you’re doing both of you a disservice. Where do you think he got those ideals in the first place?”

Have a wonderful Halloween weekend! Here are Mélanie and me at the Jack-o-Lantern Jamboree at Children’s Fairyland last weekend.

Happy All Hallows’ Eve!

Tracy

photo: Raphael Coffey

photo: Raphael Coffey

Arrived in Ashland in the OSF Member Lounge

Arrived in Ashland in the OSF Member Lounge

Happy Friday! I’m very pleased to announce that the Teresa/Tracy Grant Google+ group is starting up again, thanks to the wonderful Betty Strohecker. If you’re a member, be sure to check it out. If you aren’t a member, do consider joining. There’s a icon to join on this site. i’ll be popping in myself, though it’s primarily a group for readers.

At Crater Lake

At Crater Lake

8.31.jpgTracyMellunch

Lunch at the Crater Lake lodge

Earlier this month Mélanie and I had wonderful trip to Ashland, Oregon. We saw friends, ate some great meals, went shopping, took a great day trip to Crater Lake (Mélanie was fascinated by the model showing how it was formed by a volcano), and my friends and I saw some amazing theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. As always those performances were a wonderful source of creative inspiration for my writing. Among the highlights was Sweat, the world premiere of a play by the wonderful Lynn Nottage. Set between 2000 and 2008 in Reading, Pennsylvania, a manufacturing town in which the factories are closing down, the play manages to at once offering a broad social commentary and create vivid, heartrending portraits of specific characters so real you feel you could step on the stage and into their world. A great example of examining complex ideas by showing not telling. It opens in 2008 and with two characters being released from prison and then moves back in a time to the events that got them there. This creates wonderful dramatic tension. I love playing with narrative and timelines and how it can affect how a story unfolds.

Shopping!

Shopping!

Après theatre in Ashland

Après theatre in Ashland

Another highlight was a brilliant Antony & Cleopatra directed by OSF artistic director Bill Rauch. The tension between personal relationships and the political stage could not be resonate for me with my own writing. Suzanne and Malcolm are minor characters in world events compared to Anthony and Cleopatra, but the tension between personal loyalties and desires and political loyalties (and sometimes sheer political expedience) is one they and many other characters in the series know well. Miriam Laube and Derrick Lee Weeden brought Cleopatra and Anthony to life in fabulous performances that made the two characters at once larger than life and very, very human. In the “One more gaudy night” scene, Anthony, who has just talked boldly about charging back to battle, has a moment the reveals his own qualms about success. A few moments later, Cleopatra’s concern for him flashes across her eyes when he isn’t looking. Anthony and Cleopatra are flawed characters who make flawed choices at times. They aren’t always loyal to each other. But in the end their love for each other survives the political maneuvering, even if they do not.

Dinner at Alchemy, one of our favorite restaurants

Dinner at Alchemy, one of our favorite restaurants

Après theatre

Après theatre

Family portrait

Family portrait

At intermission, a friend and I were discussing how wonderfully clear and exciting all the political intrigue felt. John Tufts as another stand out as Octavius. Cold, scheming, but not entirely without empathy. All in all a brilliant night of theatre on a trip filled with wonderful theatrical moments and wonderful writing inspiration.

Drinks on our terrace

Drinks on our terrace

Dinner at Amuse, another favorite

Dinner at Amuse, another favorite

In closing, a question inspired by blog discussions the past couple of weeks that perhaps is not unrelated to the love and politics themes of Anthony and Cleopatra. At the end of The Mayfair Affair Raoul tells Laura “I have no right to ask you to feel any sort of obligation. But I feel one.” When the novella opens six weeks later, Laura has been muling what this means. What do you think it means? What if Raoul offering/committing to?

Visiting our friends at Weisinger Winery

Visiting our friends at Weisinger Winery

Brunch at Brother's, a favorite haunt

Brunch at Brother’s, a favorite haunt

A magical dinner at Alchemy, one of our favorite restaurants

A magical dinner at Alchemy, one of our favorite restaurants

Mélanie and I just got back from a great week at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. More on that next week when I have a chance to collect my thoughts on the plays. But while we were seeing great  theatre, eating great meals, and spending time with wonderful friends, I was mulling a comment Betty made a couple of weeks ago about Raoul. “I know his life would never be completely settled, but I think Laura would understand that. I really see Raoul as an honorable man – his wife made her own choices, so it seems like that relationship is ended in thought anyway. I think he is honorable in his work as well as in his friendships.”

This particularly intrigued me, because I don’t see Raoul sees himself as honorable – I think he thinks many of his past actions are unforgivable. I think Laura sees him as much more honorable than he admits. Malcolm’s  feelings about Raoul’s actions are evolving while I think Suzanne thinks the very word “honour” covers a multitude of sins.

I’m curious to hear what other readers think. Do you see Raoul’s actions as honorable? Dishonorable? Differently now than his actions in the past? Why or why not?

Have a great weekend!

Tracy

Mélanie seeing me off to the Merola Grand Finale last weekend. A fabulous end to a great summer program!

Mélanie seeing me off to the Merola Grand Finale last weekend. A fabulous end to a great summer program!

Last week’s survey post yielded some fascinating discussion on the series and characters. One point that particularly intrigue me was the idea of how the various characters might be happy and if it’s even desirable for every major character in the series to have a “happy and settled life.” Of course, in a series, as in real life, there’s no such thing as a “happy ending.” As Cordelia says “there’s always an after.” Even characters with the most seemingly settled lives could find their lives upended, which I think is part of what makes a series interesting, both to read and to write. That, and the fact that characters can arrive at happy lives and loves (at least “happily for now”) over multiple books.

But posters also raised the question of if we even want every character in a series to have a happy and settled life. Is that too easy? Should it be more like real life, with some characters remaining alone, some relationships falling apart, some perhaps proving less ideal than they seemed at the start? How do you feel about this, both in this series and in other series you read?

And even if one ultimately wants the major characters to arrive at a happy and settled life, what does that look like? Right now in the series, Rupert and Bertrand are happier and have a more settled life than they ever expected. They’re together, they’ve worked out an amicable relationship with Rupert’s wife Gabrielle (who has her own lover) and sharing the care of Rupert and Gabrielle’s son. Rupert’s father is essentially out of the picture. But their relationship still has to remain secret from all but their closest friends. It’s still, in fact, a hanging offense. Rupert isn’t on speaking terms with his father. We haven’t really dealt with Bertrand’s parents, but they probably at best only acknowledge the relationship by deliberately turning a blind eye to it. Are Rupert and Bertrand settled and happy?

What about Simon and David? Their relationship in some ways is more stable than that that of most of the married couples in the series. They’ve been together for a decade. But David is under increasing pressure to marry and produce an heir, from his family and from his own sense of responsibility. And there are ongoing political tensions between David, the liberal Whig who is still an aristocrat, and Simon, the Radical reformer.

Laura and Raoul seemed to be tentatively beginning a relationship of sorts at the end of Mayfair Affair. But Raoul was leaving for Spain, where rebellion against the restored monarchy is brewing, and warned Laura that he couldn’t promise he’d survive. He also pointed out that he had very little to offer her, including marriage. He has an estranged wife in Ireland. If Laura and Raoul’s emotional bonds grow but he’s away much of the time and their love affair has to remain more or less secret (like Rupert and Bertrand and Simon and David in a sense) are they settled and happy? If they were somehow able to marry but Raoul still disappeared for long stretches of time running crazy risks would that be settled and happy?

Though it hasn’t been discussed in the Rannoch universe, Bow Street Runner Jeremy Roth also has an estranged wife, who ran off years ago leaving him and their two sons, whom his sister is helping him raise. A number of readers have mentioned they’d like Roth to fall in love, but at present he’s in no position to marry. He too could have a secret relationship. Or, not being part of society, he might more easily be able to live with a lover without being married to her. Would that be settled and happy?

Of course even the couples who are married and more or less settled have tensions. Harry, I think, still wonders about Cordelia’s past, and Harry’s own past in the time they were apart may become an issue in the next book. Malcolm and Suzanne live with the threat of her past being exposed. Not to mention that they are still adjusting to the impact of Malcolm learning about her past (Suzanne says in Mayfair that she has more than she ever thought to have but it will never be the same), and their loyalties are almost bound to conflict at some point.

What do you think? Do you ultimately want settled and happy lives for the major characters? Do you at least want to feel they are moving towards them? Or do you prefer real world messiness? And if the former, how do you define settled and happy?

Have a great weekend!

Tracy

Last week I had the fun of going back to my favorite book store, Book Passage, this time for a summer reading event put on my the Larkspur Corte Madera Mothers Club, which I just joined. A great group which Mélanie and I are having a lot of fun with. I got to talk a bit about The Mayfair Affair and to listen to some wonderful summer reading suggestions for the moms and their children.

With the wonderful Elaine Petrocelli, founder and president of Book Passage

With the wonderful Elaine Petrocelli, founder and president of Book Passage

BPEricaLauraTracy

With Laura von Waldburg and Erica Applestein who organized the event

And to keep the Mayfair discussion going, I’d love to hear readers thoughts on one of my favorites of the discussion questions.

  1. What do you think Raoul is really saying with his last question to Laura and why is he relieved she understands?

At the gate, he turned back, his hand on the latch. “Laura—”

She saw him hesitate, searching for the words. All at once she understood. She smiled. “I’ll look after them for you.”

Relief at her understanding broke across his face. “Thank you.”

Happy weekend!

Tracy

PelicanInnMelwindow

The Pelican Inn, the setting for some key scenes in The Mayfair Affair, was inspired by the real Pelican Inn, a wonderful recreation of a sixteenth century inn near Muir Woods in Marin County, not far from the coast where Francis Drake landed. Mélanie and I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Pelican Inn doing research when I was writing Mayfair.

PelicanInnMelhallwayPelicanInnTracyMel

Following up on last week’s great spoiler thread discussion of Mayfair, (which I hope readers continue) this seemed a good time to start a spoiler thread about the developments in Laura and Raoul’s relationship that begin during their stay at the Pelican Inn. What did you think? Were you surprised? What do you think lies in store for them?

PelicanInnPelicanInnMelButterflies

Cheers,

Tracy

My image for Trenchard House. It looks remarkably like the image that ended up on the cover of The Mayfair Affair.

My image for Trenchard House. It looks remarkably like the image that ended up on the cover of The Mayfair Affair.

Happy Friday! The picture above shows a Mayfair town house that could easily be Trenchard House where the plot of The Mayfair Affair is set in motion (and it looks very like the picture on the book cover, which  I love).  I’m back from a lovely trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and really enjoying delving into the next book in the series.

Mélanie and me visiting our friends at Weisingers Winery.

Mélanie and me visiting our friends at Weisinger Winery.

The Mayfair Affair has been out a week now, and I’ve heard from some readers who’ve read it, so I thought I would start a thread where readers can post impressions, comments, questions for me or for other readers. This is for discussion of the book, so spoilers are fine. If you haven’t finished Mayfair yet, proceed at your risk:-).

If you missed it on Monday, we sure to check out my very fun interview on The Bubblebath Reader. Always a treat to chat with Ashley!

Below is another picture that could be right out of The Mayfair Affair. This view of Hyde Park was in my mind when I wrote a key sequence there involving Suzanne’s late night meeting with a mysterious stranger.

Hyde Park, not for from the stand of trees near the Serpentine where a key scene in The Mayfair Affair takes place.

Hyde Park, not for from the stand of trees near the Serpentine where a key scene in The Mayfair Affair takes place.

Happy weekend!

Tracy

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